“The idea of two rogue employees,” Esrig said, “is inconsistent with the kinds of checks and balances that are inherent in the way the organization is set up.”

Nor does she believe the IRS assertion in its response to the Inspector General’s audit that the use of such inappropriate selection criteria were “mistakes” and that “front-line career employees … made the decisions.”

“Front-line employees (at the Cincinnati office) do not make key decisions about policy and how work is processed,” Esrig told us. “Work is reviewed by the managers. The employees don’t operate autonomously where there is no review. The managers review.

“I think that even if an employee were to veer off in a separate direction briefly, I would be very surprised if anyone could sustain that before management became involved.”

But Esrig agreed with a second claim the IRS has been making: that the employees using the inappropriate criteria “acted out of a desire for efficiency and not out of any political or partisan viewpoint.”